Rewarding bad behavior…

I worked through lunch today trying desperately to un-cluster a fuck that need not have been clustered to begin with. The cluster in question was entirely self inflicted – as are most of our most damaging wounds, really. Truly we have met the enemy…

See, the problem is that we’ve got a really dumb habit of rewarding bad behavior. See, how I always, naively, thought it should work was that you provide ample lead time, sufficient instruction, and a deadline. Then, being reasonably close approximations of adult human beings, we can get that assignment done. What really happens, of course, is you provide the lead time, instructions, and deadline and everyone waits patiently until the deadline expires to begin screaming about not having the time, the people, or the money to get it done. All the pitfalls are things that could have been rectified early in the process if only people paid just a little bit of attention.

They don’t do that, of course. It’s far easier to blow off a deadline and expect someone else to jump through their ass to bail you out than doing the thing to begin with would have been. Hoping that there might be some level of accountability – that “because you didn’t do X, you cannot now do Y” – is a pipe dream at best. It’s one of those words we like to talk about, but not do a thing to enforce because it means someone is going to have to have an awkward conversation.

Day in and day out we reward bad behavior and then wonder why every single goddamned thing turns into a world-class cluster fuck.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Because I keep track of such things, I can tell you that this is the 150th weekly edition of What Annoys Jeff this Week. I have no idea whether I should be proud of that fact or horrified by it. Regardless, I’d have felt terrible in letting it pass without noting this small monument to one man’s ability to bitch and complain constantly and at length over long periods of time. As much as I’d like to just let this be a self-congratulatory post that feels like it would be something of a cop out… With that foremost in my mind, here are the three things that top my list of annoyances this week:

1. Forgetting. My memory has never been all that strong. Names? Forget it. I’ll forget a new person’s name before they’ve even left the room. There’s just something off with that part of my brain. I’ve learned to work around it without it usually being obvious. Forgetting the plastic pass that lets me into the building in the morning is something more problematic. That’s happened twice now in the last three weeks – both times because my pass was just a little off where where it normally sits. Apparently deviating from the morning routine even by as little as six inches one way or another is enough to mean I’ll end up driving 40 minutes to work, going home, and then trying the morning commute for the second time. If it happens again, I’m just going to staple the damned thing to my forehead and be done with it.

2. Realizing your own (lack of) importance. Most people don’t know this about me, but I have a long history of tilting at windmills. I’ve made staking myself to lost causes almost my life’s work. You could almost call me a patron of futility. It’s probably some kind of deep character flaw, but it’s been my mode of operation for so long that I’m not sure I’d know how to proceed any other way. Because of my windmill tilting tendencies I get to enjoy that awkward moment when you’re forced to admit that you’re nowhere nearly as important to someone as they’ve been to you. It’s a roundhouse kick to the ol’ ego. Fortunately I’ve got that in spades, although that still doesn’t make an distasteful truth any more palatable.

3. Missing deadlines. For the first time possibly ever, I’m facing a major project that in all likelihood I won’t be able to bring in on time. That’s made all the more problematic because there’s no option but to bring it in on time. There’s no rain date and the thing is going to happen no matter how many bits and pieces I’m still holding when the time comes. It’s infuriating because there was plenty of time to get everything in formation – right up until the point we (collectively) started getting sloppy and letting sloppy be ok. My inner perfectionist is aghast at the possibility.

Six P’s…

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred when you see me, I have a plan. It may not always be a good one, but it’s there informing the decisions I make throughout the course of the day. Even if I know the plan is going to be blown to hell and back by 9AM, I feel better starting the day with a semblance of an idea about where I want to be when the day ends.

That’s true except in the one part of my life where it feels like a plan is currently most needed – the writing part. You know, the part I really, really like. More days than not I find myself sitting at the keyboard after dinner flailing around hoping to strike on a decent topic for the night’s post. That stroke of good luck feels like it’s getting harder to come by lately. That’s pretty much how I know it’s probably time to sit down and look at this thing like an actual professional – planning out posts in advance, working to deadline, and generally not waiting for the good idea fairy to drop ideas in my lap at the last possible minute.

I think I’ve always worried that having posts pre-planned might take away some of the ebb and flow around here. It could make me less responsive to the breaking news of the day that’s just crying out for a heavy dollop of cynicism. It’s getting to the point, though, that I’m feeling like that’s an acceptable level of risk to take so I can try to get the most out of the limited keyboard time I have available. So from here on out, I’m going to do my best to see if the Six P’s are still true. I’ve I’m lucky, I’ll find all these years later it’s still a stone cold fact that proper planning prevents piss poor performance.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Note: I know I missed last week’s edition, so you’re getting a “best of” What Annoys Jeff this Week that covers that last two weeks. No extra charge. Enjoy.

1. Meetings that start at 6PM. Saying this out loud is probably detrimental to my career, but I can’t think of any good reason aside from executive ego that justifies starting a meeting at 6PM when most everyone in the room start their day between 7 and 7:30. You either have no respect for their time or really bad time management skills. Either one of which is generally considered bad form by fancy business schools everywhere.

2. People with no sense of urgency. When I’ve been telling you for more than a week that something needs to happen by X Day, don’t be surprised, offended, or otherwise defensive on X+2 when I tell you what you’re giving me is too late to include. I don’t care that you worked really hard on it. In conclusion, you’re a douchebag.

3. Large volumes of small children. Individually and in small numbers, I’m surprisingly ok with (other people’s) kids. Pack lots of them into a relatively small space and it has a tendency to make me twitchy. It’s just that they’re collectively so loud… and fast moving. When you’ve spent your entire adult life living in blissful solitude, I’m not going to lie, a gang of 15 six year olds reeking mayhem and chaos next door is something of a shock to the system. It’s a shame that the uberwealthy hiring a hermit to live on their property to give it a pastoral feel went out of fashion with the Victorian Age. I think that’s a career path where I could have really set the standard for excellence.

4. “Scooter” People. If you’re going to ride the electric scooter at Walmart, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that you pay at least partial attention to what you’re doing. And by that I mean try not to drive it directly into my back while continuing your conversation with whatever slack-jawed yokel you came with to do your grocery shopping as if it didn’t happen. I have to admit it took real stones to give me a dirty look when I called you on it. Most of the time, I have an instinctive tendency to defer to my elders, but in your case I’ll make an exception. You, you muumuu wearing, blue haired battle-ax, are an asshat.